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How Financial Professionals Can Capitalize on Social Media

Maybe you’re a technophobe, or maybe you have 10,000 Instagram followers. You can always get better at using social media to generate leads.

Many financial professionals struggle to define how they create value for their clients — and they also struggle with how to communicate that approach in a way that helps them stand out from the pack. Social media can be a valuable tool in that communication effort, but it’s one that financial professionals often fail to capitalize on.

One recent study found that only 40 percent were using social media on at least a weekly basis for business purposes. Among certain categories of financial professionals, almost half said they did not try to reach their target audience, or generate new leads, by using social media.1

That’s a significant missed opportunity, because social media, including basic Google searches, are increasingly how clients find financial advice. More than 40 percent of all investors, and 73 percent of younger investors, use Google to research financial professionals.2 And people who use some forms of social media are more likely to use others. For example, 80 percent of Facebook survey respondents say they use Instagram to decide whether to make a purchase.3

If you’re already using social media, you can always get better. And if you haven’t started yet, you need to. (Here is a recent blog post on how to build your social media strategy.)

Here are five priorities that can help you use the technology more effectively to boost your business.

1. Use Content to Generate Leads

If the goal is to build out a list of potential new-client contacts, you’ll need to offer up something of value in exchange. Start with your website and use that as a means to offer content — like a perspective on a recent market development, an interactive tool (like a budget calculator), or a regular blog — and ask readers to volunteer their email address in order to access it.4 That will help you start to build followers.

2. Make Sure the Content Reinforces Your Value Proposition

Rather than talking about anything and everything, focus the content you offer on topics where you have deep, demonstrable expertise, and those that are most relevant for your client base. For example, if you primarily work with business owners and entrepreneurs, don’t put out content about how employees can capitalize on their employers’ benefits.5

3. Pay Attention to SEO on Social Media

Many potential clients still find financial professionals through a basic Google search, but searches increasingly apply to social media as well. You must be smart about your approach, though. Social media hits don’t directly factor into Google rankings for a given search term. (Google scans social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, but it treats them like ordinary web pages.)6 Yet social media does influence the content of search results. And if your firm’s Twitter feed or Facebook page come up high in a Google search, you can bet that people are going to click on those to get a sense of how you operate.7 Many channels like Twitter and Youtube have their own search engine as well. The key takeaway is that you need to think about optimizing search results and putting out engaging content across all channels — not just your firm’s website.

4. Capitalize on the Strengths of Different Channels

Moving beyond your website, you’ll need to be on most popular social media channels. You can also tailor the channel to the preferences of your clients — for example, videos on YouTube for an older audience, or Instagram for younger and more tech-savvy clients.5 And it’s not enough to simply sign up — you need to actively be part of the conversation, in a way that leverages particular strengths of each channel.

For example, LinkedIn is primarily for professional connections and forging ties to others in the industry. If you regularly update your credentials, certifications, and associations, LinkedIn’s algorithms will suggest connections. But you can also use LinkedIn to find people who share your affiliations to certain groups, like alumni of your university or members of a business association.

Regardless of which channel you prioritize, you can repurpose content among them. If you write a blog post about a particular topic, you can post that across multiple channels. Similarly, you can create a video on YouTube — even a short one that explains how your firm is different, what types of clients you work with, and how you help those people address their financial needs — you can embed that video into other channels like Facebook and Instagram.5 Some financial professionals even use social media to communicate with individual clients (through direct messages) and book appointments.8

5. Stay Compliant and Avoid Controversy

You need to make sure that any information you put out into the world through social media complies with both your firm’s policies, FINRA and the SEC’s regulations. (For example, you’re allowed to promote client reviews from third-party sites like Yelp. However, you cannot solicit reviews from the unknown general public or selectively choose to display the good comments and delete all the negative comments.)

In addition, you should avoid saying anything controversial online, even on your own personal social media pages. One in three investors look at a financial professional’s personal Facebook pages, as opposed to their firm’s pages, and more than half of that group decided not to work with a financial professional as a result. The tendency to look into one’s personal background is even more pronounced among younger investors; two-thirds have looked at personal pages, and two-thirds of that group passed up on working with a financial professional because of something they saw.2 That means you should avoid overtly political messages, stances on controversial social issues, or photos of you acting less than professional. Here’s a test, if you wouldn’t have a particular message or photo up in your office, don’t put it up online, even on your personal page.

In sum, you don’t have to become an influencer or devote all your waking hours to social media in order to benefit from it. Engaging with users in a smart way, and reinforcing your value proposition, will strengthen your business. Investors are increasingly on social media. You need to be as well.

Please reference FINRA Rule 2210 for further explanation.

1 Joyce Blay, “RIAs Lag in Use of Social Media Compared with Other Advisors,” FinancialAdvisor.com, Nov. 6, 2019.
2 “Advisor Value Propositions: How Advisors Showcase Their Value to Investors—and what Investors Secretly Think,” Pershing Advisor Solutions, 2018.
3 “How to Get More Leads on Instagram: 10 Highly Effective Tactics,” Hootsuite.com, 2019.
4 Barry Feldman, “16 Lead Generation Strategies for Financial Advisors and Service Providers,” Taboola Blog, Sept. 30, 2019.
5 Darla Mercado, “How These Financial Advisors Use Social Media to Grow Their Business,” CNBC.com, Sept. 10, 2019.
6 Keran Smith, “Social Media SEO: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Business,” LyfeMarketing.com, Aug. 6, 2019.
7 Mark Burgess, “Embracing Behavioural Finance,” Investment Executive, Jan. 21, 2019.
7 Neil Patel, “5 Things You Need to Know About Social Media & SEO,” NeilPatel.com/blog, 2019.
8 Jack Waymire, “Digital Marketing Trends for Financial Advisors,” Seeking Alpha, Nov. 4, 2019.

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